S/Sgt. John Gunning KIA - Montebello , Cal.
It was not unusual , mostly earlier in the War , for Ground Crewmen to fly Combat Missions. This was especially true when Missions like during Big Week were " Max Efforts " which required Groups to get every A/C available in the Air. There was a shortage of Gunners due to KIA , WIA , Frostbite etc.
As a good example: The 306th BG recruited over 30 Ground Crew . Cooks , Mechanics etc. were given some Gunnery training and assigned to Combat Crews.
My Dad was a P -51 Pilot in the 357th FG. C5 - L " Shoo Shoo Baby ". The 357th flew Escort for the " Big Week " Missions.